Oceanside woman charged in $9M Ponzi scheme

Laurie Schneider leaves federal court in Central Islip

Laurie Schneider leaves federal court in Central Islip on Friday, Feb 28, 2014. Schneider pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud in connection with a Ponzi scheme. Photo Credit: Ed Betz

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An Oceanside woman was charged Tuesday with running a Ponzi scheme that took in more than $9 million by claiming she had contacts in China that enabled her to earn 30 to 70 percent returns for investors, according to a federal prosecutor.

Laurie Schneider, 35, was arrested by FBI agents and charged with fraud during her arraignment in federal court in Central Islip. She was not required to enter a plea.

Her attorney, John Carman of Garden City, said his client was not guilty and "her appearance today is a direct result of her business. Unfortunately, when businesses fail, investors lose money and that's . . . the story of this case."

According to court papers filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Treinis Gatz, Schneider claimed to have contacts in China that enabled her to bring industrial and manufacturing equipment into the United States for resale at "a substantial profit."

Schneider never actually purchased any equipment in China, but used the money given her by new investors to pay off the older investors, the court papers said.

More than 25 people invested in the supposed "China deals" between September 2006 and February 2009, according to the court papers.

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In court, Treinis Gatz said that the FBI fraud investigation has determined the amount involved so far is "$9 million and still counting."

In addition to the "China deals" charges, Schneider is under investigation in another scheme involving selling the same interest in a number of local companies she is affiliated with to different investors, according to Treinis Gatz and court papers.

Those companies - which she claimed to own in full or in part, court papers say - include Ultimate Sax & Sound Entertainment in Freeport; and All-Clean Janitorial Supplies, Eager Beaver Realty, and Janitorial Close-Out City, all in Oceanside, the court papers said. Schneider has not been charged in that scheme.

Schneider was released on $1.5-million bond, pending future hearings. She faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

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